Remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), more commonly known as drones, are changing the landscape of public safety and emergency response.
Most people associate drones with photography and filming, however trailblazing innovators have been maximising drone benefits for public safety, internationally and on home turf.
Since 2019, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service has been using RPAS as a tool to navigate tropical cyclones, missing person searches and rescues.
In response to Australia routinely facing natural disasters, the need for RPAS to manage recovery efforts is increasing. Project design engineer Shahab Katebi has been helping local governments elevate their regional disaster recovery efforts through RPAS.
RPAS has also enhanced the safety of field research. Adjunct Professor Max Finlayson from Charles Sturt University has been using RPAS to assist with field work in his research for vegetation management and biosecurity. RPAS monitoring reduces both the risk to researchers and expenditure.
Finally, RPAS also provide invaluable support in connecting Australia’s isolated communities. Goondiwindi pharmacist Lucy Walker, in conjunction with Symbion and Swoop Aero, has been exploring the use of RPAs for vital medical delivery to those living in remote and regional Australia.
To fully benefit from the support that advancements in RPAS technology is bringing, it is essential that we understand the basics of the technology now, the opportunities that are emerging, and what is being achieved in Australia and overseas.
While enthusiasm around RPAS technology is evident, to ensure its benefits are more widely felt, several changes need to take place for the industry to reach the height of its potential and optimise the invaluable applications of remotely piloted aircraft systems.